Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams
This debut collection from Eley Williams centres upon the difficulties of communication and the way in which one’s thoughts — absurd, encompassing, oblique — may never be fully communicable and yet can overwhelm.
Attrib. and other stories celebrates the tricksiness of language just as it confronts its limits. Correspondingly, the stories are littered with the physical ephemera of language: dictionaries, dog-eared pages, bookmarks and old coffee stains on older books. This is writing that centres on the weird, tender intricacies of the everyday where characters vie to 'own' their words, tell tall tales and attempt to define their worlds.
With affectionate, irreverent and playful prose, the inability to communicate exactly what we mean dominates this bold debut collection from one of Britain’s most original new writers.
About the author
Eley Williams lives and work in Ealing. She is co-editor of fiction at 3:AM magazine and assists the independent publishers Copy Press. Her prose has appeared in the journals Ambit, Night & Day, The Dial and Structo; in 2005, she was awarded the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize and her work has been shortlisted twice in The White Review's Short Story Prize. She teaches both creative writing and children's literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she was recently awarded her doctorate.
Praise for Attrib. and other stories
The continuous wordplay in Attrib. is more than just a linguistic game: it’s also a way of thinking about the world. This is a book that looks harder and deeper at everything around us.
– The Guardian Reading group
It is impossible not to identify with Williams's candid observations of the quirks and quandaries of emotional life. Her experimentation is not a case of obfuscation: we come away feeling that we know precisely what she means.
– Times Literary Supplement
It proved you can generate acrobatic, edge-of-your-seat fiction, from little more than random arcana.
– The Telegraph, Books of the Year 2017
Eley Williams’s Attrib. And Other Stories cornered the market in cerebral playfulness.
– The Guardian, Best Books of the Year 2017
In the aftermath of Attrib. and Other Stories by Eley Williams, I had to resist the urge to weigh every book in my house in order to find the heaviest.
– Sara Baume, New Statesman Books of the Year 2017
Eley Williams’s collection, playful and genuinely original, is a joy to read.
– Australian Book Review Books of the Year 2017
She is a writer for whom one struggles to find comparison, because she has arrived in a class of her own: witty, melancholy, occasionally sensual, occasionally mordant, elegantly droll without the kind of hipster quirkiness that makes me want to hurl books at the wall. She has in common with George Saunders the ability to be both playful and profound, and we are lucky to have her.
– Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
The letters in her words seemed to be drawn from adjacent parts of the alphabet. They had thought about themselves and one another. There was something collusive about them. They backed up one another’s story. They had demanded to be consulted, and come to their own unconventional arrangements. It all makes for alphabetophile writing. In the reader, it produces a kind of constructive estrangement from words. Think William Gass, Lydia Davis or Anne Carson, and you won’t be too wrong.
– Michael Hoffmann, London Review of Books
'It’s exciting to come across a writer playing with language so experimentally. There’s no one working in the UK quite like her.'
— Joanna Walsh
An emotionally delicate and tenderly introspective collection.
– New Statesman
Fiddling with words, as if playing with them were all that mattered, her characters draw time to a standstill–then they stop, suddenly, blinking and thrilled. It's beautiful, the way they get lost.
– The Guardian
Funny, playful and utterly bravura, it deserves to be read by everyone with a love of words and an interest in the way deftly wielded language and original ideas can come together to detonate on the page.
– Melissa Harrison, Financial Times
It's just the real inexplicable gorgeous brilliant thing this book. I love it in a way I usually reserve for people.
– Max Porter, author of Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
The possibilities these stories imply are many, one of them being that you, the reader, could be their unnamed narrator. That's why, like all good literature, they feel so personal, immediate and incredibly urgent.
– New Humanist
Language as you know it gets away from you and becomes something different—refreshing, original and delightful.
– British Council
If there were any doubt that Williams knows exactly what she’s doing—down to the half-inch, down to the barest femtometre—then she simply wouldn’t be able to get away with it. She does, she is. Williams is a phenomenon, and Attrib. is a phenomenal piece of work.
– Richard Smyth, The Short Story
Williams' writerly roots in poetry and poetic prose shine throughout this stunning collection of almost intimidatingly intelligent and creative work.
So good it makes me giddy. For God’s sake, buy a copy.
– Caught by the River
A joyous collection of moments, of love, of language, with such a light, skilled touch.
– Aliya Whiteley, author of The Beauty
These are stories that are so repeatedly re-readable – for their humour, their humanity and their sheer revelry in the textual matter of the language from which they are made: the physical, pleasurable, palpable, enigmatic and unguent words and all they carry with them.
– The Contemporary Small Press
Williams’ USP (even, at times, brilliance), is to drop us in on lives at seemingly innocuous moments—and then wrong-foot the reader, contort the unfolding story, and ultimately distill something elemental from the seemingly banal.
Nearly every sentence here dazzles with somersaults.
– Minor Literature(s)
Williams’ writing is emotionally engaged and linguistically playful. This collection has been highly acclaimed for all the right reasons—it is gorgeous, moving, intelligent, it contains striking images and nuanced emotion.
– Triumph of the Now
Attrib. especially works as a series of beautifully written detached vignettes upon the themes of language and love. And what finer themes are there?
– Turnaround Blog
The stories in Attrib. are such treats they deserve to be read like a properly made coffee: don’t take too much at once; enjoy in your favourite place; let each story percolate.
– The Fountain
Williams has a completely unique voice and explores language with a quirky, intelligent hand. These stories are impulsive, darkly comic and utterly compelling.
– Waterstones summer 2017 recommendations
This is masterful shit, wiry and high-wire, this is serious serious play.
– The Wily Filipino
It is clear and precise and, in being so, illustrates the limitations and frustrations of communication between people.
– Autonomous Thought
This is an original and trolmydames read which adds to some equally amazing recent short story collections in English, mostly being published by small presses. If Joanna Walsh, Claire-Louise Bennett, Camila Grudova, Angela Readman are for you, then this will be too.
– Library Thing
Composed in sentences that border on pure poetry—exactly the kind of unusual, exciting book that indie publishers like Influx Press excel at producing.
– Amy's Ever-Growing Bookshelf
The debut collection of short stories fixates on the briefest moments of confusion and miscommunication—the kind of exchanges that feel so vivid, but look so mundane from the outside... Williams brings these moments of internal intensity into the spotlight, with 170 pages that positively glow.
Williams’s entertaining and versatile first collection must be attributed—or ‘yield[ed] as due’—the resounding praise it deserves.
– Review 31
The author wields her prose with sensory precision. Her words and the silences between convey both the beauty and the grotesque nature of relationships. They reveal the distance between internal thought processes and their articulation.
– Never Imitate
Eley Williams interview
– Bristol 24/7
Eley Williams interviewed by The Writes of Woman
Eley Williams reads 'Alight at the Next' for Triumph of the Now TV
Eley Williams on synaesthesia for Triumph of the Now TV
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-910312-16-2
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-910312-17-9
Publication date: March 2017
Formats: Paperback, ebook